Larrikins and Bohemians at Ray Hughes Gallery

6 Aug

Here’s an oped piece of mine in the Sydney Morning Herald today: ‘Larrikin’ Has Been Colonised By the Elite.

It criticises the way some of Australia’s super-rich style themselves as ‘larrikins’ to suggest that they only have ordinary Australians’ interests at heart.

It also talks about Australia’s late-colonial larrikin history:

Colonial larrikins were far more interested in big-noting themselves – whether as binge drinkers, flash dressers or bare-knuckle fighters with aggression to burn – than they were in being ”ordinary”.

This colonial larrikin phenomenon emerged at a time when the casualisation of labour and the absence of a minimum wage created a precarious future for unskilled youth. They faced this lack of opportunity at the same time as others were making fortunes from land speculation and mining shares.

The uneasy combination of aspiration and resentment that they expressed on the streets was largely due to their economic predicament.

I’ll be talking about that larrkin history at Ray Hughes Gallery in Sydney’s Surry Hills this Thursday night (9 August 2012 from 6pm) as part of an event for the Shaken and Stirred Supper Club.

The event is called ‘Larrikins and Bohemians: the high and low lifes of Australian history’ and also features Tony Moore talking about his great new book Dancing With Empty Pockets: Australia’s Bohemians. More info and a link to ticket sales can be found here.

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